Tropical paradise? Turquoise seas? Friendly locals? The twin islands of St Kitts and Nevis may be the smallest country in the Caribbean but they really do have it all!
Home to roughly 45,000 residents (a quarter of whom live in the capital), this twin-island Federation is a travel writer’s dream and tourist heaven. Formed by volcanoes, the two isles bask in a warm tropical climate all year round, and the crystal clear waters never fall below a balmy 26C.
The islands’ history is a little more murky, involving centuries-long Anglo-Gallic squabbles for control. At one point, a détente allowed the French to occupy the islands’ ends while the English set up camp across the middle! But all was resolved by 1983 when the country gained full independence.
Still, there are more than a few colonial leftovers for this Commonwealth nation. Cricket is far and away the favourite local sport, and the Warner Park stadium hosts many an international match. And there’s a long history of sugar cane to the country – plantations were sown by the first English governor in the 1600s.
With such a sugar-based history, you’d expect the national dish to appeal to the sweet of tooth. Or perhaps, given the fact that the islands are in the West Indies, something fishy. While saltfish could be suggested as the national dish (often served with stewed with spicy plantains and coconut dumplings), our more local sources advocate a different type of meat altogether. In St Kitts and Nevis, it’s all about the goatwater stew.
A favourite on many Caribbean islands, the dish is rumoured to lend men a little extra – er – potency, and has even spawned a reggae classic. Perhaps the country’s most well-known dish, this stew mixes tender goat meat, breadfruit, green papaya and dumplings in a tomato base, making for a hearty, tasty meal.
Another favourite dish is the island cook-up, or pelau (which combines chicken, pig tail, saltfish and vegetables with rice and pigeon pea), along with conkies – a treat that’s similar to banana-wrapped tamales and is particularly popular at Easter. Top it all off with a glass of rum, and you’re all set for a languid morning under a coconut tree, a lazy afternoon swim, and an evening partying like the locals…